A Lincoln club member sent me these two pages from a 10 rater National Championship at the lagoon in Hove, The date was 1962 , I myself used to play on the lagoon in the fifties as a kid of 14 years old , as it was just a few hundred yards from where we lived at the time . Norman still has this victorious 10 rater although these days he sails a I.O.M Gadget and a dragon force. In the days when he was victorious with his 10 rater Derick Priestly the M.Y.A Chairman was still in short trousers, he remembers Norman well and with great affection Norman moved from Fleetwood to Lincoln many years ago and stumbled across the Lincoln club by chance, we are very glad he did, he has become a valuable member of the team and is always available to help out whatever the task.
A long time member of the club and an ex Phantom National Champion, Chaz Jordan made a generous contribution to the construction of “Jordan’s Landing”, a useful jetty on the lake as well as a celebration of the “Aqua Sortie”.
Here is a description of this event from Chaz himself:
During October 1966, I was in Changi Village and spoke to George, a friendly motor mechanic who was fixing a bicycle. George was 37, a Malay father of 5 children. Married to Suzette.
I explained about the forthcoming event and he suggested that I might purchase one of his very old and rusted bikes. I explained about the extra persons and the required use of the bike. He suggested a higher gear ratio to gain speed and laughed when he said, “You’re in the RAF, what about wings?” I replied, “Hey, what a good idea!” During the weeks that followed, together with my new mechanic friend, we considered just how to fit any kind of wings onto a bicycle. There were some pretty strange ideas I can tell you. I acquired several rusty old bikes and using a hacksaw, cut the frames so I had an assorted array of straight metal tubing and set about welding tubes of required lengths. The lengths of old bike tubes were on the heavy side, so I acquired various lengths of slightly larger diameter alloy tubing that slid snugly over the bike tubing so no welding was required. I just drilled holes and screwed. George continued to joke about the project, saying, “What is it, a piece of Modern Art on wheels?” It certainly looked weird. After much searching I located two 4ft x 8ft sheets of old lightweight 2-ply plywood. I butted one sheet up against the bike and immediately realised the 4ft side would get in the way of the cyclist’s knees as he pedalled, so I cut a small section out of both sheets.
I screwed an 8ft length of lightweight 4 by 2-inch lengths of wood along the plywood about 1/3 way across from one long side underneath the wing, so the 2-inch edge was against the plywood on both sheets. I screwed two x 8ft lengths of lightweight ½ inch square wood under the leading and trailing edges on both wings and screwed in a series of metal eyes along the edges. Using thin nylon parachute cord, I secured a bowline knot onto an eye at one end of both sheets passing the cord through an eye on the opposite edge and then back to the first edge and passed through the next eye making a zigzag pattern and so on until each eye had the cord passing through it and proceeded to pull the cord tighter until the sheet was curved like an aeroplane wing with the camber about one third the width from the leading edge. Clever eh? Polythene was a rarity in those days. Using a lot of masking tape, I secured the polythene to the top of the leading edge of each wing. Then folded the sheet under the wings making a small incision for the metal eyes and stretched it around the trailing edges and secured it to the top of the wings using more sticky tape. I ran more sticky tape along both sides of each series of metal eyes on both wings to prevent the polythene from tearing. Using 2 lengths of 6ft alloy tubing, I bolted these in place along the 4 by 2-inch lengths of wood under the wings and slid each tube over the projecting tubes by the handlebars. I secured the trailing edges of the wings to the initial square metal frame. I fashioned eyes into each of the ends of the wire lengths and added small turnbuckles and attached these to the eyebolts on top of the vertical tube above the handlebars. I drilled vertical holes through both wings 2ft from the outer ends and inserted an eyebolt above and below the wings. Wires were attached to these eyebolts and I tightened the wires by turning small turnbuckles at top of the vertical strut above the handlebars. I then attached wires to the underside of the wing and secured the other end of the wires to the newly fashioned forks and tightened these. I attached wires to the eyebolts on top of the wings and secured the ends to the forward most triangle point and tightened them. Other wires were attached to each of the eyebolts on top of the wings and attached them onto a rear eyebolt on the end of the horizontal tube behind the saddle down tube and tightened them. I struggled to lift the heavy bike and let it fall to the ground testing the rigidity of the wings. Everything stayed in place. I got onto the bike and rode a little in order to find if it was heavier one side. It balanced well although it was heavier at the front. It occurred to me that a rider would counterbalance. I did find however, the tyres needed to have new more robust inner tubes as there would be added weight to take account for. Using George’s car parking space in front of his workshop, I rode around getting a feel for this unwieldy contraption. It looked impressive. George suggested that he tow the bike with me on it by using his moped to see what forward speed was required to create lift.
Changi villagers were rather bemused by the scene. They fell about in laughter and the jokes about my contraption were relentless. With George on his moped and me being pulled along by rope, the front of my bike began to lift at about 25mph. There was however a small problem of weight distribution. With our team of 7 intrepid volunteers, on the rear, the tyres would have to be exceptionally robust. After much discussion, George located larger diameter motorcycle wheels with good inner tubes and tyres. That would provide a higher gear ratio. George adapted the forks to take the wider tyres. George suggested that I might consider painting it. We located some old silver paint and I sprayed it all silver. I also painted RAF roundels on top of the wings and wondered if I should put a name to it. I considered many names. As the jetty was part of Changi Yacht Club and we already had a motorboat named Cyclopes, I thought Cyclips might be appropriate. It looked really weird to say the least. Although I did take photographs, unfortunately, I later lost the lot.
The time came to enter, but having checked the tide tables, I found the tide would be on Flood, not Ebb, so I made sure my entry was first. A rising tide meant less of a drop to water level from the jetty.
I realised there was a small problem of the team. I had to find one. I didn’t have far to look. As soon as I started telling members of our Signals Section, I had more than enough volunteers, so I set about selecting members of our team. I enlisted 7 lightweight lads, an average of 10½ stone per person and two more than any other team, so we’d get an extra 2 feet in measured distance. We practised getting on Cyclips and figuring a way to hang onto each other and our intrepid pilot practised getting the balance right. We finally came up with an idea that by pushing ourselves backwards, as we would have the effect of propelling Cyclips forward that little bit extra. There was a problem: the wings were lower than both sides of the jetty’s safety rails. Having spoken to Mandor, one of the yacht club’s employees, he told me the railings could be pulled from their mountings without trouble. As there was no rule against it, although all other competitors would start from the top of Changi Hill and partly pedalling furiously or freewheeling down the hill on their contraptions, our team decided we would make a temporary 45 degree 20 ft high wooden ramp that was similar to that used in BMX stunt competitions and would position the ramp against the step leading to the jetty footway.
On the day, Changi Villagers came to watch possibly wishing the demise of Cyclips amid a lot of leg pulling and comments such as, “Hey mate, you got a pilot’s licence for that?” We were the first of 23 competitors. We winched ‘Cyclips’ rear wheel first to the top of our ramp and fastened a thin parachute cord to a stanchion to hold it in place with 2 lads holding the wings level. Our team of 7 climbed aboard. Charlie our 7 stone Pilot had been practising pedalling furiously for weeks, so was keen to get on with it. This was ‘Cyclips’ maiden and last flight, so we all hoped she would fly straight and true. It was all in the balance and forward speed at the point where the jetty ended. Amongst the jeers and wanton comments, we all hung on, tightly onto one another apart from Charlie. The cord was cut and we started down the ramp gathering instant speed. We zoomed along the 80-foot jetty at a speed similar to that of 30mph. As the front wheel hit the slight ramp at the far end, all but Charlie fell or jumped off and fell into the water. As we spluttered to the surface, I saw Charlie bent forward like a racing motorcyclist on Cyclips still in the air some 35 feet from the jetty, gliding further than anyone had glided on any bicycle before. Eventually, Cyclips plopped into the water some way passed the far end of the measuring tape. The cheering that followed was relentless amidst the Changi villager’s applause. The plywood wings disintegrated on contact. Cyclips was dragged to shore and what was left was hosed down. The contraption was only fit for the scrap metal merchant.
The measurement was estimated at 47 feet. A magnificent achievement everyone said. Of the 22 other teams, one managed a significant 19 feet without the aid of wings. There was a great deal of cheering I can tell you – and our prize? 3-crates of Tiger Beer. As one would expect we all got rather drunk. A week later, as a big thank you to George and his family, I took them all out for an evening meal at a high-class Malay restaurant in the city and kept in touch with George until I was notified that he had passed away during 1992.